It was one of the best days of fishing that I’ve ever had.
As is the case with most fly fishing, it wasn’t just about numbers. There was a whole lot more going on that contributed to the overall experience.
The weather was perfect – high 70’s, light cloud cover, and a slight breeze.
The scenery was fantastic – mountains, waterfalls, and summer foliage in full bloom.
The hike in, about three miles, was pleasant. It was my second time on a trail that day, and this trip was less rocky and slower-paced.
Even my shore lunch, enjoyed on a large rock in the middle of the river, hit the spot.
But oh, the fish.
And it certainly wasn’t about the size of the fish. They were all native brook trout, high up in the mountains. There were a handful pushing ten inches, yet most averaged something like six. But they were all beautiful. Some bright, others dark, each stunning in their own right.
They were eager to eat, too. Not stupid or easy – but willing to go after dries and small streamers. On a three weight, all but the smallest of the fish required some fighting to land.
Trout are obviously the focal point of any normal fly fishing trip. Yet even now, only a few days removed from my outing, the quantity of fish isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think back to the experience.
For example: there was a large rock that created a bridge over a deep run in the creek. It was such a fishy spot. I moved into position, did a little on-the-spot trigonometry, and made a cast. And it was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I surprised myself. So surprised that I totally missed the thick brookie that attacked my fly.
Although I missed that fish, the whole scene and situation was just plain fun. I’d even say that there is some element of fun in the subtle pangs from missing that one fish in light of a few other dozen that came to hand.
The qualitative nature of fly fishing is so much more than the quantity of fly fishing. Watching hawks, eating trail mix on a rock, and catching sight of the high peaks that surrounded me tied it all together. These accoutrements can’t be bought at a fly shop or ascertained from honing your casting technique.
Appreciating the entirety of the culture makes bad days on the water good and great days better. And I’m convinced that it makes the best days the best days.